|SA-Dakar Rally: Magnaldi, Patissier and Jihong "last defenders" for Dessoude.|
Team Dessoude is still in the race, even if, unfortunately, the retirement of the Atacama prototype was confirmed. This time, the fight is on in the Two-Wheel Drive category reserved for Buggies, and the Dessoude teams are definitely not just onlookers.
The gaps are coming down, and the next special stages will determine who is on the final podium! At the end of tuesday’s stage, Thierry Magnaldi and Francois Borsotto got into the Top 20. As far as Jihong Zhou and Isabelle Patissier are concerned, they are maintaining a high pace and are not far behind.
Three Dessoude teams are still in the event have nerves of steel and the pace has significantly increased. The bad news of the day for Teamchef André Dessoude was obviously the retirement of the Mitsubishi/Nissan Atacama prototype of Frédéric Chavigny and Jean Brucy. With a broken front axle yesterday, they were not able to reach the finish line.
André Dessoude analysed these technical problems with difficulty: "The cars were all fully overhauled and of course the axles were checked, so I find it hard to explain this mechanical failure. We will have to take some time and have a deeper look. This evening, the atmosphere in the team is electric, as the drivers enjoyed themselves today, while increasing the rhythm. The next stages will be thrilling."
Isabelle Patissier and Thierry Delli Zotti (21st, + 07:55:34) were radiant at the end of the stage. After last year, when they missed out on the big descent that they did in the dark, they were able to fully appreciate it this time.
"Although the first part of the stage was not particularly good" said Patissier. "With rocks and so much fesh fesh that at one point I could not even see Thierry in the cockpit, the second was very interesting, and we really let ourselves go. As for the descent of the great dune, with the Pacific Ocean on the horizon, it was quite magical! As far as the performance is concerned, we are on the pace. Tomorrow it’s going to be hot out there!"
French "Legend" Thierry Magnaldi is also smiling again: "Once again, we were rather thrown around in the first part of the stage, which was not very interesting, with some sections that were rather unpleasant. However, the second part was a real treat, and we saw a fine fight between the buggies. On our side, there were no punctures, and we had chosen the right settings. The last 60 km, it was really war out there: Lots of driving, blind corners, jumps and this totally crazy descent at over 150km/h! Tomorrow will be a crucial day, but this time, we are well and truly on our way ."
The Chinese rookie JIhong Zhou and his co-driver Lia Min once again reached the finish line this evening. For a totally new crew on the Dakar, the place they have in the overall classification (25th, +09:21:40) is a real achievement. It is even more significant that they are fighting with a number of veterans of the sport.
But Jihong is not one to get emotional about these things; he prefers to appreciate the beauty of each passing day on the Dakar: "This was another difficult special stage, and we had our share of problems, but the final descent of the great dune, which ends at the Pacific Ocean, is quite possibly the craziest thing that we have done. At one point we looked at each other in the cockpit to ask ourselves if it was really a reasonable thing to do, and then we chose not to look at the speedometer and just to dive down!"
2012/01/11 | 15:13 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/DESSOUDE